Category Archives: Imperialism

Where Was All The Investigative Journalism On US airstrikes The Last 20 Years? by Caitlin Johnstone

The recent US drone strike that killed 10 civilians and garnered a great deal of press is a drop in the bucket of civilian casualties from US strikes that have been completely ignored. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The Pentagon has finally admitted to the long-obvious fact that it killed ten Afghan civilians, including seven children, in an airstrike in Kabul last month.

In an article with the obscenely propagandistic title “Pentagon acknowledges Aug. 29 drone strike in Afghanistan was a tragic mistake that killed 10 civilians,” the New York Times pats itself on the back for its investigative journalism showing that the so-called “ISIS-K facilitator” targeted in the strike was in fact an innocent aid worker named Zemari Ahmadi:

“The general acknowledged that a New York Times investigation of video evidence helped investigators determine that they had struck a wrong target. ‘As we in fact worked on our investigation, we used all available information,’ General McKenzie told reporters. ‘Certainly that included some of the stuff The New York Times did.’”

Indeed, the Pentagon only admitted to the unjust slaughter of civilians in this one particular instance because the mass media did actual investigative journalism on this one particular airstrike. This is an indictment of the Pentagon’s airstrike protocol, but it’s also an indictment of the mass media.

Perpetrators of Horrors, by Wanjiru Njoya

If you are white and British, you were born guilty. From Wanjiru Njoya at lewrockwell.com:

It has been announced that the good British people are the world’s leading perpetrators of horrors and will need to start paying out their slavery reparations right away. This is good news for all those on the receiving end of the payouts. It’s almost like winning the lottery. Everyone loves receiving free money from the government so it’s good to see reparations being promised. This might seem a bit unfair to any British taxpayer who has never personally perpetrated any horrors, but that’s too bad. They should have thought of that before choosing to be descended from horrid slavers and colonisers. Most people would agree that it’s only fair and just to make recompense for doing something bad even if you didn’t do it. The fact is that you live in a world where horrors occur, and that makes you a joint perpetrator of horrors. The balance of the world must now be restored. Time to pay up!

The Revd Dr Michael Banner said that Britons were the “leading perpetrators of the horrors” of slavery and that the “question of making recompense for them has to be faced”.

Britain should pay reparations for slavery, says Cambridge Dean

It’s not yet clear how this will work. A few questions need to be answered. For example, what is meant by ‘Britons’? Do Britons have to be white to be guilty of perpetrating horrors? Will there be an exemption for black Britons? Do Britons have to be rich in order to incur liability for the perpetration of horrors? Or will poor Britons also have to pay up for any ancestral horrors that they didn’t commit?

Most likely, to make it more fair, it will be funded from taxes and become a national institution that could be called Our Reparations. The Royal Family could go out on their doorsteps every week, with all their children standing in a row, to clap for Our Reparations. HMRC could volunteer to collect our contributions through payroll taxes. It would not cost very much. Taxes would only have to go up the slightest little bit, you wouldn’t even notice. And anyway if you’re a Briton then paying higher taxes is the least you could do to account for your horrors. It’s a tax designed to heal all Our Wounds so you should be proud to help with the national healing effort. It’s a matter of national pride finally to wash away the stain of colonialism and make us all whole again. Think of it more like paying the Wages of Sin and earning your redemption.

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Twenty Years on, We’ve Learned Nothing From 9/11, by Ron Paul

Those who cannot learn from the past are destined for high office or other well-paid, prestigious Washington sinecures. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

Nothing upset the Washington Beltway elites more than when in a 2007 presidential debate I pointed out the truth about the 9/11 attacks: they attacked us because we’ve been in the Middle East, sanctioning and bombing the civilian population, for decades. The 9/11 attackers were not motivated to commit suicide terrorism on the Twin Towers and Pentagon because they dislike our freedoms, as then-President Bush claimed. That was a self-serving lie.

They hated – and hate – us because we kill them for no reason. Day after day. Year after year. Right up until just a few days ago, when President Biden slaughtered Zemari Ahmadi and nine members of his family – including seven children – in Afghanistan. The Administration bragged about taking out a top ISIS target. But they lied. Ahmadi was just an aid worker, working for a California-based organization, bringing water to suffering Afghan village residents.

This horror has been repeated thousands of times, over and over, for decades. Does Washington believe these people are subhuman? That they somehow don’t care about their relatives being killed? That they don’t react as we would react if a foreign power slaughtered our families?

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright famously suggested in an interview that killing half a million Iraqi children with sanctions designed to remove Saddam Hussein from power was “worth it.” It was an admission that the lives of innocents mean nothing to the Washington elite, even as they paint their murderous interventions as some kind of “humanitarian liberation.” The slogan of the US foreign policy establishment really should be, “No Lives Matter.”

The Washington foreign policy elites – Republicans and Democrats – are deeply corrupt and act contrary to US national interests. They pretend that decades of indiscriminate bombing overseas are beneficial to the victims and keep us safer as well. That is how they are able, year after year, to convince Congress to hand over a trillion dollars – money taken directly and indirectly from average Americans. They use fear and lies for their own profit. And they call themselves patriots.

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End Of The US Empire: Orwell’s 1984 ‘Newspeak’ & Dirt Cheap Gold, by Egon von Greyerz

The fate of an empire’s currency generally mirrors the general fate of the empire. From Egon von Greyerz at goldswitzerland.com:

The final phase of Empires normally ends with the same signals whether it was 2000 years ago in Rome or  today in the US.

One of the first signs is losing wars together with excessive debts, deficits, devaluations and decadence  The US being defeated and hurriedly fleeing from Afghanistan in a few days clearly signifies the end of the US empire.

The mighty US military has in the last few decades conducted disastrous wars against very small countries with no big armies or weaponry. Vietnam, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan come to mind but there are many more as we show below.

Brown’s University has just made a study of the US cost of wars since 9/11. They arrive at a staggering $8 trillion and the loss of 900,000 lives .

So in the last 20 years, the US has spent $8 trillion or 40% of annual GDP on conducting totally unsuccessful wars. The report also states that even after the exodus from Afghanistan the US is still involved in wars in over 80 countries.

Current extent of the US empire

US CURRENT WAR ACTIVITY

The cost of being involved in some kind of war activity in 85 countries will continue to cost the dying US empire dearly for decades to come.

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The American Empire In Retreat, by Ross Douthat

Empires often collapse from the outside and work in, which is one way to think of the American empire’s most recent failure in Afghanistan. From Ross Douthat of the New York Times via zerohedge.com:

America leaving Afghanistan memeA meme artist’s conception of of America’s retreat from Afghanistan. 

In one of the more arresting videos that circulated after the fall of Kabul, a journalist follows a collection of Taliban fighters into a hangar containing abandoned, disabled U.S. helicopters. Except that the fighters don’t look like our idea of the Taliban: In their gear and guns and helmets (presumably pilfered), they look exactly like the American soldiers their long insurgency defeated.

As someone swiftly pointed out on Twitter, the hangar scene had a strong end-of-the-Roman Empire vibe, with the Taliban fighters standing for the Visigoths or Vandals who adopted bits and pieces of Roman culture even as they overthrew the empire. For a moment, it offered a glimpse of what a world after the American imperium might look like: Not the disappearance of all our pomps and works, any more than Roman culture suddenly disappeared in 476 A.D., but a world of people confusedly playacting American-ness in the ruins of our major exports, the military base and the shopping mall.

But the glimpse provided in the video isn’t necessarily a foretaste of true imperial collapse. In other ways, our failure in Afghanistan more closely resembles Roman failures that took place far from Rome itself — the defeats that Roman generals suffered in the Mesopotamian deserts or the German forests, when the empire’s reach outstripped its grasp.

Or at least that’s how I suspect it will be seen in the cold light of hindsight, when some future Edward Gibbon sets out to tell the story of the American imperium in full.

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Breaking the Empire Means Breaking With the Saudis, by Tom Luongo

Saudi Arabia has been a bulwark of the American empire since World War II. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Thinking of Enlisting? Read This Afghan War-Inspired Warning Label First, by Brian McGlinchey

The US has fought charade wars since World War II. By now, those who enlist to fight in such charade wars can’t claim that they are duped. Rather, it’s willful ignorance on their part. Afghanistan offers them one more chance to get schooled. From Brian McGlinchey at lewrockwell.com:

Operation Enduring Freedom is filled with cautionary tales for would-be service members

Though the war in Afghanistan is over, its grim history is filled with hard truths about what it really means to serve in the American military.

Those truths are particularly relevant to anyone contemplating enlistment or commissioning in the armed forces. With that in mind, here’s a warning label informed by the grim lessons of Operation Enduring Freedom—the failed and futile 20-year war in Afghanistan.

YOU COULD LOSE YOUR LIFE OR LIMBS IN A WAR THAT ACCOMPLISHES NOTHING

After 9/11, the U.S. government was right to lash out at Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. However, that mission was largely accomplished by the end of 2001. As Scott Horton wrote in Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, within three months of 9/11, “there were not enough (al Qaeda) left alive to fill a seventeenth-century pirate ship.”

The balance of the war was a futile effort to replace the Taliban with a government more palatable to western powers. Today, after more than 2,400 U.S. service members were killed and more than 20,000 wounded, Afghanistan is ruled by the Taliban, just as it was two decades years ago.

YOU MAY HAVE TO FIGHT ENEMIES CREATED BY YOUR OWN GOVERNMENT

Al Qaeda and the Taliban can be traced directly to a 1979 CIA operation, conceived by national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and approved by President Carter, that provided aid to opponents of Afghanistan’s then-pro-Soviet government, in hopes of drawing the USSR into a protracted, hopeless war.

As I wrote in a pointed 2017 Brzezinski obituary, “the Carter and Reagan administrations, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, funded, organized, transported, armed and trained Salafist extremists to fight the Red Army in a holy war on behalf of Islam. Among those who joined the cause were future al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad.”

“The enduring global impact of this 10-year program bears emphasis: The CIA and Saudi GID recruited jihadists from all around the Muslim world, creating relationships and networks that would evolve into not only al Qaeda, but also ISIS and many other Salafist terrorist groups across several continents.”

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The U.S. Has A Plan For What’s Next in Afghanistan – It Does Not Include Peace, by Moon of Alabama

The US government will do its best to sustain chaos and violence in Afghanistan. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.org:

Secretary Antony Blinken @SecBlinken – 1:34 UTC · Aug 31, 2021I want to drive home today that America’s work in Afghanistan continues. We have a plan for what’s next, and we’re putting it into action.

The codename for the plan which Secretary Blinken is putting into action has not been officially released. It will likely be called “Eternal Revenge” or something similar.

The U.S. is not a good loser. Nor are President Biden and Blinken. They will take revenge for the public outcry their chaotic evacuation of troops and civilians from Afghanistan has caused. The Taliban will be blamed for it even as they, following U.S. requests, had escorted groups of U.S. citizens to the gates of Kabul’s airport.

One can anticipate what their plan entails by looking at the process that led to yesterdays UN Security Council resolution about Afghanistan. The full resolution has not been published yet but the UN reporting on it gives the gist:

Security Council urges Taliban to provide safe passage out of Afghanistan

Thirteen of the 15 ambassadors voted in favour of the resolution, which further demands that Afghanistan not be used as a shelter for terrorism.Permanent members China and Russia abstained.

As the resolution only ‘urges’ it is obviously minimal and not binding. It is not what the U.S. had set out to achieve. It wanted a much stronger one with possible penalties (see ‘holding … accountable’ below) should the Taliban not follow it.

Prior to the UNSC meeting France and Great Britain had proposed to create a ‘safe zone’ in Kabul. That request has been silently dropped – likely over Chinese and Russian concerns about Afghanistan’s sovereignty.

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The Cost of an Empire, by Bill Bonner

The costs of America’s imperial wars are never borne by the criminals who promote them. From Bill Bonner at rogueeconomics.com:

Let’s drink to the hard-working people

Let’s drink to the lowly of birth

Raise your glass to the good and the evil

Let’s drink to the salt of the earth

Salt of the Earth, The Rolling Stones

YOUGHAL, IRELAND – Yes… we are hooting for the salt of the Earth. Saluting the faceless crowd, the lowly of birth… the masses… the hoi polloi… the proles.

In a few words: They are getting treated like Afghans.

Misled by the U.S. empire, corrupted by its fake money, and then left behind as the elite slip away.

Cost of Empire

Empires are always costly. And the costs are borne, mostly, by the working classes.

The Roman Republic was built by the blood and energy of its small farmers. Then, imperial conquests brought booty and slaves back to Rome. These were divvied up among the elite, who established large latifundia – farms run by slave labor.

The small farmers were driven out of business, forced to sell their farms to the big producers, and later, often forced to sell themselves and their children into slavery.

America never figured out how to make its empire pay.

From the very beginning, it was its own “little guys” who paid. They paid the taxes. They put on the uniforms. They may not have understood what “we” were fighting for, but they were ready to follow the sound of the cannon from San Juan Hill to Mỹ Lai.

The Vietnam War was one of the U.S. empire’s most spectacular fiascos. Your editor spent part of that war onboard a U.S. Navy cruiser… comfortably off the coast of California or at our base in San Diego.

Offered the glory of commanding a river boat on the Mekong Delta, he demurred. Even then, it was clear that the war was an expensive and dangerous boondoggle.

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Afghanistan: Same, Same; Again, Again, by Patrick Armstrong

For both the US and the country it invaded, the differences between the Vietnam and Afghanistan wars are minimal. From Patrick Armstrong at strategic-culture.org:

The difference between the U.S. performances in Vietnam and Afghanistan is that in the first, the vehicles were painted green and in the second, sand.

The lesson of Afghanistan is not that the US is washed up as a great power. The lesson is that the US is such a great power, militarily and economically, that it is continually tempted to try hopeless things that nobody else on earth – including China – would ever attempt.

David Frum gives new meaning to the expression “in denial”.

Don’t believe what you’re told by the generals, or the ambassadors, or people in the administration saying we’re never going to do this again. That’s exactly what we said after Vietnam. We’re never going to do this again. Lo and behold we did Iraq. And we did Afghanistan. We will do this again.

John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)

Bill Ehrhart arrived in Vietnam in 1967 believing everything. His first indication that all was not as expected came when he wasn’t welcomed the way Allied soldiers had been in 1944. A couple of days later he was shocked to see “detainees”, bound hand and foot, casually tossed off a high vehicle by other Marines. This didn’t seem to be the way to treat people the Americans were there to help said he to his companion who told him to keep his mouth shut “until you know what’s going on around here”. And, he continues in this video, “it went downhill from there”. Every day patrols met “snipers and mines” but he saw hardly any enemy soldiers. He came to realise that the Viet Cong didn’t have to force people to fight the Americans; once a Marine patrol had destroyed its way through a village, they’d have all the recruits they needed:

the longer we stayed in Vietnam, the more Viet Cong there were, because we created them; we produced them… The Vietnamese people hated me and I gave them every reason to hate me.

The war he saw bore no resemblance to the optimistic stuff he read in Time Magazine and other mass media. So he hunkered down, stopped asking the questions of what and why – “the questions themselves were too ugly even to ask” – did what he did and waited for the date when he would go home.

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